Ivory Coast: June 18, 2003


: The Ivorian government, in anticipation of expanding their armed forces, is actively recruiting local youths to train as mechanics. The Ivorian Air Force is looking for 154 mechanics for fighters and helicopters, as well as 30 pilots (10 fighter, 10 transport, 10 gunship and 5 transport helicopter). 

Ordinarily the requirement for pilots is filled by recruiting foreigners. In February, the government had six helicopter gunship pilots: a former member of the British B-squadron SAS, a Frenchman and four South Africans (all former employees of "military services" company Executive Outcomes).

The local press also claims that President Gbagbo has hired 24 additional mercenaries and specifically named Christian "Garnier," a Frenchman actually named Christian Founier who was thought to be in charge of the President's close security. These men had been in the country for a week and were training presidential security guards at the police academy. - Adam Geibel


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